Answers by HH Romapada Swami
How did Srila Prabhupada persist in service, while we succumb to maya?
Q: Prabhupada had undergone so many troubles in his life; still he continued his preaching in his life even after having so many temples to manage. That was his success. But when we are trying to follow his teachings in our life, why are we not able follow it perfectly?
Sometimes we say Maya is so strong. What will happen to us? When we are sick, it is so difficult to even complete 16 rounds. Why does this happen to us?
Answer: We know from Srimad Bhagavatam (SB 1.2.6) that there is no material force that can stop the flow of pure devotional service - it is ‘ahaituki apratihata’, causeless and uninterrupted. It is the characteristic of one who is in the steady stage of pure devotion that they are not swayed by any material influences or circumstances - this was exemplified in Srila Prabhupada’s life. Conversely, unsteadiness in our execution of Krishna consciousness is caused by lack of maturity in our faith & devotion, thus permitting impediments or “unwanted things in the heart” (anarthas) to prevail. For sadhakas, or those of us in the practicing stage of devotion, as long as unwanted residual desires (anarthas) are present in the heart, there is experience of unsteadiness and struggles.
When these anarthas are uprooted by proper execution of hearing, chanting etc (as described in SB 1.2.18) then one becomes situated in nistha, or irrevocable devotional service.
In other words, imperfections and unsteadiness in our initial efforts to cultivate devotion is not unexpected and not something to be discouraged about. This should not however make us complacent or indifferent to our lack of success thinking, “Anyway I am not a very advanced devotee like Prabhupada and this is how it is going to be for a long time to come.” The weeds of anarthas, if left unattended, will completely outgrow and choke our bhakti-creeper. Therefore, taking inspiration from the example the pure devotees have set before us, we should enthusiastically uproot these sources of unsteadiness, having full confidence in the potency of the process given by the acharyas.
The most important element that carries one from the position of anisthita bhakti to the other side of nistha is strong faith. Strong faith is defined as the unflinching trust that simply by executing Krishna consciousness, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities and achieves the highest perfection. In practical terms, thistranslates to acting firmly and obeying the instructions of the representative of Krishna; by firmly following the orders of Guru and Krishna, all obstacles are overcome. (Please see BG 2.41 p.) And the backbone of faith is enthusiasm. Eagerness to attain the fearless shelter of lotus feet of Krishna and enthusiastically striving for it by the proper means: this will completely ensure our success in devotional service.
Maya is indeed very strong but Krishna is stronger than maya. A devotee should regard Maya with respectful caution and therefore take shelter of Krishna for protection. Krishna promises that those who surrender to Him can easily cross over Maya.
Srila Prabhupada once remarked “The reason I can never fall down to Maya is because I am ALWAYS praying to Krishna to kindly protect me from falling down.”